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Nantou Distillery and
the “other” Taiwanese whisky

南投酒廠和其他台灣威士忌

Mention Taiwanese whisky these days, and there’s a good chance people will respond with “Oh, you mean Kavalan?”

…and it’s not hard to see why. In Just over 11 years, the distillery has won a plethora of awards, and is regularly held up as a poster child of how good “New World Whiskies” can be.

Kavalan however is not the only Taiwanese whisky. In 2008, the State-owned Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation (TTL) produced its first Malt whisky at Nantou Whisky Distillery, and has been producing increasingly high-quality single malt whisky since (see last month’s issue for Jackson Wu’s thoughts on their latest peated release).

Located in the Central East of Taiwan, just over a 2 hour drive from Taipei, Nantou produces whisky under the “OMAR” name (Gaelic for “amber”). Whilst the distillery primarily matures whisky in Spanish Sherry casks and American Bourbon casks, they have also produced some fascinating whiskies finished in fruit liqueur barrels, including lychee liqueur and the popular “Black Queen” plum liqueur finished whisky.

The distillery uses two pairs of copper pot stills (9,000L / 5,000L wash stills, and 5,000L / 2,000L spirit stills), eight stainless steel washbacks (the sub-tropical climate makes the use of wooden washbacks impractical), and one lauter tun, along with three malt storage tanks (50 tons each).

Barley is not sourced locally (due to the hot climate), but rather from Scotland. Water on the other hand, is sourced from the surrounding area for its pure and unpolluted nature. Due to the intense summer heat, whisky production only takes place from October to April.

 

On a recent trip to Taiwan, I picked up two single cask, cask strength OMAR whiskies – a 6 year old ex-Sherry expression and a 5 year old ex-Bourbon expression. Being un-chill filtered, cask strength and single cask, I figured this would give me a great insight into the spirit, and different styles of maturation undertaken by the distillery.

Nantou‮ ‬OMAR Cask Strength ex-Bourbon‭ #‬11110097‭ ‬‮!‬V 5yo‭, ‬54.1%‭ ‬ABV

Light golden straw in colour, this whisky has taken on an impressively complex collection of flavours in just 5 years. The nose is initially grassy and herbaceous, but soon shows coconut, pencil shavings and some milk bottle chews / lollies. The palate is initially dry, but evolves over time to be sweeter with pineapple, mango and caramel (water helps). There’s a long, smooth and creamy finish. My favourite.

Nantou‮ ‬OMAR Cask Strength ex-Sherry‭ #‬21091313‭ ‬‮!‬V 6yo‭, ‬58.4%‭ ‬ABV

Copper-orange in colour, the nose is much sweeter than the ex-Bourbon, with berries, red apples, milk chocolate and hints of oak. The palate is somewhat tannic, but shows typical (sweeter, perhaps PX) sherry characteristics of raisins, brazil nuts and pot-pourri. Water increases the oak. The finish is sweet and oaky.

For a such a young distillery to produce such impressive whiskies in a short period of time (in challenging conditions) is remarkable. We should all look forward to see what high quality whiskies Nantou continue to produce in the future!

每當我提及台灣威士忌時,很多時侯會接收這樣的回應「哦!你指Kavalan嗎?」


不過不難預計,Kavalan在十一年來屢獲殊榮,更經常被定為「新世界威士忌」怎樣美好的象徵。


Kavalan並不是台灣唯一的威士忌生產公司,2008年臺灣菸酒公司(TTL)更在南投威士忌酒廠釀造它第一枚麥芽威士忌,自此一直釀造越來越高品質的單一麥芽威士忌 (上期有提及Jackson Wu對他們最新推出的泥煤味的感想)。


南投位於台東的中部,從台北只需駕車兩小時便到達。南投威士忌都會有OMAR的名字(蓋爾語是琥珀的意思)。當蒸餾廠最初把威士忌於西班牙橡木桶和美國波旁酒熟成,同時也製造一些讓人吸引,在水果利口酒桶熟成威士忌,包括荔枝風味桶原酒和人氣「梅子風味桶」風味。


酒廠使用兩對銅製蒸餾器(9000公升/5000公升wash stills,和5000公升/2000公升spirit stills),八個不銹鋼發酵槽(亞熱帶天氣導致木製發酵槽失效),和伴隨三個麥芽儲存罐(50噸重)的萊特糖化槽。


在最近的台灣之旅,我提取兩瓶單一原桶酒威士忌,一瓶是六年的原雪莉桶風格、另一瓶是五年的原波旁酒風格。兩款都沒有經過冷凝過濾,同樣是原桶和單一木桶,我想這是給予一個良好機會來洞察酒廠的出品和不同的成熟風格。


呈現淺金稻草的色澤,這威士忌在5年內已經取得了令人印象深刻的複雜味道。一開始充滿青草植物香氣,接著是椰子、刨鉛筆和牛奶糖的複雜氣息。一開始口感乾身,但隨時間漸變甜美菠蘿、香杧和焦糖。悠長柔潤和幼滑的結尾。可謂我的喜愛。


此深邃銅而帶橙的佳釀,莓果、紅蘋果、牛奶朱古力和輕柔橡木的混合香氣比起原波旁酒那款更甜美。略帶單寧的口感同時展現典型雪莉(可能是較甜的PX)的提子乾、巴西果仁、雜錦花香的特性。略加上水還增加橡木風味,遇帶有甜和橡木的收結。


像這間年輕的酒廠能短時間(兼還上具挑戰性的情況)製造優質的威士忌是十分出色。我們更加期待將來南投酒廠在未來會推出甚麼高品質威士忌。